The namesake of the competition, John Dryden, was the first poet laureate

Alumna wins translation prize

The powerful story of an Iranian girl held in prison was turned into a prize winning translation by alumna Lesley Lawn. 

Lesley (MA Translation 2012) won the BCLA John Dryden Translation Competition 2014 for her work.

“I really did not expect it to be a winner,” she said. “However, it was a translation I had been working on for some time and I felt very passionate about the text. In fact, as soon as I had read ‘La muette’ by Iranian born Chahdortt Djavann, I felt compelled to translate it.”

The short novel takes the form of a prison notebook written by the 15-year-old Iranian girl about her aunt who is mute and the events that lead to the girl's imprisonment.

“It is an extremely powerful novel about oppression, ignorance and bigotry — but it is mainly about the courage of women to rebel against the brutality of their daily lives,” added Lesley.

“I think one major aspect of the work of the literary translator is that it goes beyond the image and crucially allows us to hear these voices from different cultures, giving the reader unimagined insights into the lives of individuals that would otherwise remain unknown.”

Parts of Lesley’s winning entry will be read at a special event at SOAS, University of London in October. The competition is organised by the British Comparative Literature Association,in memory of the first British poet laureate John Dryden (1631 – 1700).

Date: 27 August 2014

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